Woman allows doctors to turn off life support for brain-dead stranger, misidentified as her brother: Lawsuit

A New York City woman has sued a local hospital, alleging that she terminated life support for a man doctors claimed was her brother but ended up being a complete stranger.

Shirell Powell, 48, told the New York Post that she sat by a brain-damaged Freddy Clarence Williams’ bedside for several days after he was admitted to Barnabas Hospital on July 15 for an apparent drug overdose. The lawsuit stated that the 40-year-old man was unconscious and that his face was swollen but resembled Powell’s brother, who had the same name (no middle name) and was the same age.

It was reportedly only after medical examiners performed an autopsy did Powell learn that the man whom she had taken off life support on July 29 was a stranger—and that her brother was locked up at Rikers Island. The Post reported that Freddy Williams was arrested July 1 for an assault in Manhattan.

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“I nearly fainted because I killed somebody that I didn’t even know. I gave consent,” she told the newspaper.

The lawsuit alleged that Freddy Clarence Williams was admitted to the hospital with a Social Security card that identified him by his full name. Despite this, Powell was in the process of having the man buried by the time officials contacted her with the disturbing news.

Powell is reportedly seeking unspecified damages for the alleged mix-up. Meanwhile, hospital spokesperson Steven Clark told the Post that the lawsuit is without “any merit.”

Powell claimed she talked with her brother following the ordeal and that he was briefly upset with her decision to pull what she thought was his plug.

“He was saying, ‘You were going to kill me?'” she recalled. “I explained to him, once you’re brain-dead, there is nothing to do.”

Powell said she smoothed that situation over but she’s still overcome with guilt for ending a complete stranger’s life.

She mused, “How could the hospital do something like that? Look what they put my family through.”

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[Featured image: Pixabay]